Tobenna was exasperated with his sister-in-law, Echetachi, whom his wife called Big Sis. Her bossiness wasn’t mildly irritating, it was unbearable, he thought.

His first encounter with her was during their traditional marriage introduction when he nearly told her off for scolding his bride-to-be harshly in public. It was the intervention of his cousin, Chukwudi, that averted that disaster.

“Do you want to end your marriage before it starts? That lady is practically the mother of your fiancée. It’s tradition for elders to scold their younger ones, so chill, abeg.”

Tobenna heeded Chukwudi’s words but made a mental note to discourage his wife from inviting Echetachi to their home. Thankfully, she travelled to the UK shortly after to reunite with her husband and Tobenna praised God for the thousands of miles between their families.

However, his relief was short-lived. Echetachi came back to Nigeria after six years and in the absence of a ready job or business, she was paying his family many unscheduled and infuriating visits.

Tobenna could swear that he had never seen Echetachi laughing and having fun with anyone. She made strict rosters for his wife and toddlers, aged 5 and 4. She chose what they ate and rationed their meals. Even how the meals were prepared had to be according to her dictates. For instance, his wife, Chinonye, didn’t waste time with the leaves when she cooked oha soup. She stripped everything straight down from the stalks. But Echetachi wouldn’t hear of it. She insisted that the leaves be picked in a way that removed the nodes by which they were attached to the stalks. Her reason: they gave the soup a bitter taste. He had never noticed the difference and her method took forever.

His wife dutifully did as Big Sis said, even though he knew she would go back to her usual style when she left.

Tobenna wanted to leave well alone but the more frequent Echetachi’s visits became, he knew he would give her a piece of his mind sooner or later.

He knew that Chinonye idolised her elder sister who took care of her and her siblings when their parents died. She stopped school in SS 1 and ran their mum’s fish and crayfish business until all three siblings graduated from the university. Then she registered for GCE, got her O’levels and gained admission into a College of Education. Fate came calling in the form of a husband who lived abroad and she didn’t complete the programme.

Unfortunately, she had a rift with her husband and came home. She hoped to go back to her former business but raising the capital had been a challenge. Tobenna would have gladly given her millions if that would keep her away from his family but he couldn’t afford it on his civil servant pay.

He had fantasised about what he could tell her to stop her constant visits but he could never summon the courage. So he did what he considered the next best thing – talk to his wife.

It was a Saturday and she was emptying the laundry basket in the children’s room. He remembered that she had shopped and cooked earlier and doing the laundry by 5 p.m. meant he probably wasn’t going to get some loving that night. She would plead exhaustion or a headache. That was happening too frequently and it was all Echetachi’s fault for keeping Chinonye on her feet all day, he believed.

His younger sister, Sonma, was there but he didn’t care.

“Whose idea was it that you should wash clothes by this time?” he asked rhetorically. Left on her own, his wife spaced out her housework to give herself time to play with the kids and cuddle with him.

“Why has Echetachi decided to constitute herself into a thorn in our flesh?”

He should probably have stopped there going by the dismay on his wife’s face. But he pressed on.

“Why is she running you like a slave in your own house? Who does she think she is?” He saw Sonma slightly shake her head out of the corner of his eye but he felt he needed to get it all out.

“It’s your fault that she’s here all the time ordering you around. If you never stand up to her, how will she stop?”

This would been another good point to stop, since his wife’s chilly stare showed she hadn’t taken kindly to his comments.

But it was clear Tobenna wasn’t through.

“Determined to crash and burn while you’re at it?” Sonma asked silently.

“This is how she antagonised her husband’s family in the UK. When the guy couldn’t stand it anymore, he sent her packing!”

The tension in the room was so thick one could cut it with a knife.

“Uhmmm, just a minute,” Sonma whispered, pretending to have got a call.

Tobenna has really stepped in it, she told herself as she walked out of the room. I’m getting out of here ASAP.

Presently, she came back with her backpack.

“Mum says I should come back and help her prepare for the women’s meeting she’s to host tomorrow.”

“By this time?“ Tobenna protested.

She ignored him, hugged Chinonye who was standing by her older son’s bed, stiff as a board, and breezed out, leaving Tobenna to deal with the mess he had created. Big Sis was a pain, she admitted, but there were other ways to get his points across without hurting his wife, which is what Tobenna had just done under the guise of fighting for her.

-The end-

Ⓒ Edith Ugochi Ohaja 2024

Care to chat?

***Do you agree with Sonma that Tobenna bungled his defence of his wife?
If yes, what can he do to make it up to her?

***Do you have any advice for Echetachi and Chinonye?

You may also like the following related posts:


  • Jackie Amasike

    It isn’t right to wait until it boils over before handling a situation. Tobenna should have found a suitable time earlier to have had a discussion with the wife on Echetachi. When one reacts in anger, the outcome is always regrettable.
    Chinonye should be wise and put a stop to Echetachi’s overbearing attitude without disrespecting her. In fact, Echetachi needs psychological. help

  • Ezeah Jennifer nnedinso

    This is educating

  • Ezeanya Immaculate

    The man should have told the wife gently, to tell her sister to reduce the flequent visit or rather come out as a man and tell the elder sister himself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.